This book was certainly an interesting surprise. I was expecting something more specific about equipment and weapons development during the Second World War. The subtitle is about “Problem Solvers”. It might have been better called something like “How Things got Done”; or a “celebration of mid-level leaders”.
The 370 pages of text are broken into five lengthy chapters examining different critical campaigns from January 1943 to July 1944, and looking at the nuts and bolts of how they were won by the allies. It certainly isn’t a narrative history, more of a deep analysis. And that may be the very thing that kept it interesting for someone who has read far more on this period of time than I can even remember. The five campaigns, or specific challenges, dealt with here are The Battle of the Atlantic, Winning Air Superiority over Western Europe, Stopping the Wehrmacht, Amphibious Operations in Europe and Conquering the Vast Distances of the Pacific.
In each of these chapters the author weaves together all the details, the complexity, the interconnectedness of things needed to make things work. I found that fascinating from beginning to end. It is so often true when we read campaign or battle histories we come up short on greater context, but this book provides context in abundance and helps us keep track of how all the details come together. Whether its the cavity magnetron, T-34 testing at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, mating the Merlin to the Mustang or ambhibious theory by Pete Ellis; there is just a staggering level of stuff here. As is so often the case with “big picture” stories like this there are several detail errors on little things, naturally I most notice it on aircraft but I’m sure other readers will have some other little nits to pick. But it really is just in the little stuff I have some complaints.
Fascinating and fun book.